OK, after a year of waiting…here we go with the new posts:

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Words: Veni, Veni, Emanuel
Authorship Unknown, 8th Century Latin
Published: Psalteriolum Cantionum Catholicarum, Köln, 1710.
Translated from Latin to English by John Mason Neale in Mediaeval Hymns and Sequences, 1851.

Music: “Veni Emmanuel,” 15th Century French Plain Song melody,
Arranged and harmonized by Thomas Helmore in Hymnal Noted, Part II (London: 1854).
Based on a 15th Century French Processional

The funny thing about this song is that even though its been around forever, I don’t remember hearing it until I was an adult. Maybe that’s because its an Advent song and I didn’t grow up in churches that followed the liturgical calendar. In fact, this song is so adventy that each verse corresponds to an antiphon that is recited in many churches from December 17-23.

Maybe I did hear it and I didn’t take notice of it, but when I did, it was instant love. I love the solemnity of it, the sense of longing, the sense of hope for a better day:

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

It resonated back in the late 70s or 80s, back when I thought I had problems, and it still does; especially the words “lonely exile” which seem appropriate for the “misplaced” life I’ve been living the past couple of years. I think all of us who long for Heaven can relate, however, to a time when “the gloomy clouds of night” will be dispersed and “death’s dark shadows put to flight.”

Here’s a great version from Mannheim Steamroller that hearkens back to the song’s original Latin and chant roots. The uploader did a fabulous job on this, it’s a must see:

Now a couple of versions in The English:

Art: Wailing Wall, originally uploaded by dou_ble_you.


One thought on “The 12 Good Songs of Christmas: #3

  1. The first Latin version was hauntingly beautiful. The Mormon choir did a first-hand job at the English version. It went from chant to choir. And then to pop. Of course when you start out with something as musically beautiful as this, its hard to mess up.
    Sadness, longing, hope, loneliness – Why is it that the heart has to bleed before you get such beauty?
    Here’s to you, Joe: May this Christmas give your heart reprieve of loneliness, and may your pain turn into something beautiful like this song.
    Merry Christmas!

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